What is a Barndominium?

Avatar
Updated on
Avatar

Brenda Nyawara

Brenda Nyawara is an editor at Archute. She is a graduate architect with a passion for edge-cutting ideas in design, fashion, art and modern world interests.
Get Smarter On Architecture and Design

Get the 3-minute weekly newsletter keeping 5K+ designers in the loop.

Enter your Email to Sign up

Side-bar-footer-forum

In the past few years, there has been a significant rise in fascination with a unique type of housing labeled as a barndominium. This improved dwelling marries the rustic charm of a barn with the modern luxuries of a home. The cleverly concocted word, “barndominium”, is a fusion of the words “barn” and “condominium”, indicating a residential structure which externally looks like a traditional barn, but internally offers comfortable and completely furnished living spaces.

The interior of a barndominium can vary widely, depending on the preferences of the homeowner. Some people choose to keep the interior of their barndominium rustic and simple, while others opt for a more modern and luxurious feel. Regardless of the interior design, a barndominium typically features infinitely customizable plans, high ceilings, open floor plans, and large, open spaces that are perfect for entertaining guests or spending time with family. Overall, a barndominium is an excellent choice for anyone who wants a unique and stylish living space that combines the best of both worlds.

Definition of a Barndominium

A barndominium is a type of residential building that combines the architectural elements of a barn and a condominium. It is a metal pole barn or barn-like structure with sheet metal siding that has been partially or fully converted into a furnished home or living area.

Today, barndominium typically refers to large, open-concept buildings that have both living quarters and a garage or workshop. These structures can be customized to suit the owner’s needs and preferences, and they are becoming increasingly popular in rural areas.

Barndominiums can be designed to be energy-efficient and low-maintenance, making them a cost-effective option for those who want to live in a unique and functional space. They are also often used as vacation homes, rental properties, or event venues.

Overall, a barndominium is a versatile and practical option for those who want to live in a spacious and distinctive home that combines the best elements of a barn and a condominium.

History and Evolution of Barndominiums

Barndominiums are a relatively new concept in the world of housing. The term “barndominium” was coined in 1989 by developer Karl Nilsen, but the concept of living in a converted barn or metal building has been around for much longer.

The origin story of the barndominium can be traced back to the rise of the metal building industry in the mid-20th century. As the technology for producing and erecting large steel buildings advanced, many farmers and ranchers began to repurpose these structures for both agricultural and residential use.

Initially, these buildings were used primarily for storage or as workspaces. However, as the cost of traditional housing continued to rise, more and more people began to see the potential of these structures as living spaces.

Over time, the design of barndominiums has evolved to include more luxurious features and amenities. Today, many barndominiums are designed to be spacious and comfortable, with modern kitchens, high-end finishes, and even amenities like swimming pools and home theaters.

Despite their growing popularity, barndominiums are still a relatively niche housing option. However, as more people become interested in sustainable living and alternative housing options, it’s likely that we’ll continue to see the evolution of this unique housing concept.

Construction and Design Elements

A barndominium is a unique type of residential building that combines the design elements of a barn with those of a condominium. The construction of a barndominium typically involves using a steel frame, which makes it sturdy and durable. The building’s exterior is typically made of metal, wood, or a combination of both. 

The interior of a barndominium can be customized to suit the owner’s preferences. The design elements can range from rustic to modern, depending on the owner’s taste. The interior can be left open or divided into separate rooms using walls or partitions. The walls can be made of drywall, wood, or metal.

One of the benefits of a barndominium is its flexibility. The building can be designed to accommodate a variety of needs, such as living quarters, workspace, or storage. The design can also be modified to include additional features, such as a loft, a balcony, or a porch.

Another advantage of a barndominium is its energy efficiency. The steel frame and metal exterior provide excellent insulation, which helps to keep the interior temperature comfortable year-round. The building’s design can also incorporate features such as natural lighting and passive solar heating.

In summary, a barndominium is a unique type of residential building that combines the design elements of a barn with those of a condominium. The construction involves using a steel frame and metal exterior, which provides durability and energy efficiency. The interior can be customized to suit the owner’s preferences and can be modified to include additional features.

Benefits of a Barndominium

Cost Efficiency

One of the most significant benefits of a barndominium is its cost efficiency. Compared to traditional homes, barndominiums are usually cheaper to build. This is because they are typically constructed using metal, which is less expensive than wood or brick. Additionally, the open floor plan of a barndominium allows for more efficient use of space, reducing the overall cost of construction. The cost savings can also extend to the maintenance and upkeep of the home, as metal is more durable and requires less maintenance than other building materials.

Versatility

Another benefit of a barndominium is its versatility. The open floor plan of a barndominium allows for a wide range of customization options. This means that homeowners can create a space that truly reflects their personality and lifestyle. Barndominiums can be designed to accommodate a variety of uses, such as a home office, a workshop, or even a space for entertaining guests. The versatility of a barndominium makes it an ideal choice for those who value flexibility and adaptability in their living space.

Durability

Barndominiums are also known for their durability. The metal construction of a barndominium makes it resistant to many of the common issues that plague traditional homes, such as rot, pests, and fire. Additionally, metal is a highly durable material that can withstand extreme weather conditions, such as high winds and heavy snow. This means that barndominiums are built to last, providing homeowners with a long-lasting and low-maintenance living space.

In summary, the benefits of a barndominium include cost efficiency, versatility, and durability. These factors make barndominiums an attractive option for those looking for a unique and adaptable living space that is built to last.

Potential Drawbacks

While barndominiums offer many benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider.

Zoning and Building Restrictions

One potential issue with barndominiums is that they may not be allowed in certain areas due to zoning and building restrictions. Some cities and towns have regulations that prohibit the construction of non-traditional homes, which could include barndominiums. It’s important to research local zoning laws and building codes before deciding to build a barndominium.

Financing Challenges

Another potential challenge with barndominiums is securing financing. Some lenders may not be familiar with this type of property, which could make it more difficult to obtain a mortgage. Additionally, the customizable nature of barndominiums can make them more expensive to build than traditional homes, which could also impact financing options. 

It’s important to consider these potential drawbacks when deciding whether a barndominium is the right choice for you. While they offer many benefits, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

Comparing Barndominiums with Traditional Homes

Barndominiums are becoming a popular housing option for people who want a unique living space. They are often compared to traditional homes, and there are some key differences between the two.

One of the main differences is the cost. In general, barndominiums tend to be less expensive to build than traditional homes. This is because they are often made from steel buildings, which are cheaper than traditional building materials like wood and brick. Additionally, barndominiums often have fewer walls and less square footage, which means they require less labor and materials to build.

Another difference is the design. Traditional homes are often designed to look a certain way, with specific architectural styles and features. Barndominiums, on the other hand, can be designed in a variety of styles and can be customized to fit the owner’s preferences. This means that barndominiums can be more unique and personalized than traditional homes.

When it comes to maintenance, barndominiums may require less upkeep than traditional homes. Steel buildings are durable and resistant to pests and weather damage, which means they may need less maintenance over time. However, it’s important to note that barndominiums may require more frequent cleaning and maintenance of the metal surfaces.

In terms of resale value, it’s difficult to say which is better. While traditional homes may have a higher resale value in some areas, barndominiums are becoming more popular and may have a higher demand in certain regions.

Overall, barndominiums offer a unique and customizable living space that can be more affordable and require less maintenance than traditional homes. However, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option before making a decision.

Steps to Building a Barndominium

Building a barndominium can be an exciting and rewarding process. Here are some steps to help guide you through the process:

Step 1: Planning and Budgeting

Before starting any construction project, it is important to plan and budget accordingly. Determine the size and layout of your barndominium, as well as any special features you want to include. Consider the cost of materials, labor, and permits. Set a realistic budget and stick to it.

Step 2: Site Preparation

Once you have a plan and budget in place, it’s time to prepare the site for construction. This may include clearing the land, leveling the ground, and installing utilities such as water, electricity, and sewage.

Step 3: Foundation

The foundation is a crucial element of any building, and a barndominium is no exception. There are several options for a foundation, including a traditional concrete slab, pier and beam, or post and beam. Choose the option that best suits your needs and budget.

Step 4: Framing

Framing is the process of building the structure of the barndominium. This includes the walls, roof, and any interior partitions. Choose the framing materials that best suit your needs and budget, such as wood, steel, or a combination of both.

Step 5: Electrical and Plumbing

Once the framing is complete, it’s time to install the electrical and plumbing systems. This includes wiring, outlets, switches, and fixtures, as well as pipes, drains, and fixtures for the kitchen and bathroom.

Step 6: Insulation and HVAC

Insulation is important for keeping your barndominium comfortable and energy-efficient. Choose the insulation materials that best suit your needs and budget, such as fiberglass, spray foam, or blown-in cellulose. HVAC, or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, is also important for maintaining a comfortable indoor environment.

Step 7: Interior Finishes

The final step in building a barndominium is adding the finishing touches to the interior. This includes flooring, paint, trim, cabinets, and fixtures. Choose the finishes that best suit your style and budget.

By following these steps, you can build a beautiful and functional barndominium that meets your needs and budget.

Conclusion

In summary, a barndominium is a type of residential building that combines the best architectural elements of a barn and a condominium. It is a popular trend in modern home design due to its versatility, affordability, and unique aesthetic appeal.

Barndominiums are typically built using a metal frame, which is cheaper and easier to construct compared to traditional wood framing. The structure is designed to serve both as a living space and a workspace or storage area, making it a practical option for those who want a multi-functional building.

Moreover, barndominiums can be customized to suit various needs, whether it’s a weekend getaway, a family home, or a retirement retreat. With the proper planning and preparation, building a barndominium can be a great way to get your dream home without breaking the bank.

However, it is important to note that building a barndominium requires proper permits and inspections to ensure that it meets safety and building codes. It is recommended to consult with a professional builder or architect to ensure that the project is completed successfully.

Overall, a barndominium is a unique and practical option for those who want a versatile, affordable, and stylish home. With the right planning and execution, it can be a great investment that provides a comfortable and functional living space for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the pros and cons of building a barndominium?

Barndominiums are becoming increasingly popular due to their unique design and affordability. Some of the pros of building a barndominium include the ability to customize the living space, dual-purpose options, and a more rustic aesthetic. Additionally, barndominiums are often cheaper to construct than traditional homes. However, there are also some cons to consider, such as potential zoning restrictions, difficulty obtaining financing, and limited resale value.

Are barndominiums cheaper to build compared to traditional homes?

Yes, barndominiums are generally cheaper to build compared to traditional homes. This is because they do not require as much of a foundation and are often constructed using prefabricated metal building kits. However, the cost can vary depending on the size, location, and customizations of the barndominium.

What are some common problems with building a barndominium?

One common problem with building a barndominium is obtaining financing. Since barndominiums are a relatively new concept, many lenders are hesitant to provide financing for them. Additionally, zoning restrictions can also be a challenge, as some areas may not allow for a residential dwelling to be built in a barn-like structure.

There are many different barndominium plans and kits available, ranging from basic designs to more complex and customized options. Some popular kits include those offered by companies such as Morton Buildings, Worldwide Steel Buildings, and DC Structures. For plans, our recommendation is to head over to BarndominiumPlans.com and check out their options.

How do barndominiums fare in cold weather?

Barndominiums can be designed to withstand cold weather, but it’s important to ensure that proper insulation and heating systems are installed. Additionally, it’s important to consider the location of the barndominium and whether it will be exposed to harsh winter weather conditions.

What are some things to consider before building a barndominium?

Before building a barndominium, it’s important to consider factors such as zoning regulations, financing options, and the location of the structure. Additionally, it’s important to carefully plan out the design and layout of the living space to ensure that it meets the needs of the occupants.

Photo of author

About the author

Brenda Nyawara

Brenda Nyawara is an editor at Archute. She is a graduate architect with a passion for edge-cutting ideas in design, fashion, art and modern world interests.
Related Articles
barndominium

How to Design Your Own Barndominium

Owning a home is an item on everyone's wish list. Whether you want to buy or build from scratch, an ...

What is a Barndominium?

In the past few years, there has been a significant rise in fascination with a unique type of housing labeled ...

Barndominium Design Ideas

Barndominium Design Ideas: Creating Your Dream Space

Have you ever dreamed of residing in a barndominium, yet unsure about where to start? Barndominiums are distinctive dwellings that ...